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February 21, 2002

Pastrana and the FARC: The Peace Talks Show is Over

Narco News '02

Drug War Goes

Boom in Colombia

"The Revolution Will Be Reported"

A Communiqué from Narco News

By Al Giordano

Colombia's lame duck president Andrés Pastrana began his televised speech last night by seeking the legitimacy that has evaded his presidency. His first words were:

"Fellow Colombians: In October of 1997 nearly 10 million Colombians - in the highest voter turnout in the country's history - voted for peace, a vote that obligated all the presidential candidates to pursue peace in Colombia through political negotiation.

"In June of 1998, six-and-a-half million votes - also the highest voter turnout for any presidential election - supported my peace project. That's why, since the first day of my government I have not stopped working to comply with the mission that you gave me: The mission in which democracy trusted in me!"

Pastrana, last night, on National TV

Pastrana did not mention the October 2000 elections, for good reason. They were held just two months into the implementation of the U.S. military intervention, endorsed by Pastrana, called "Plan Colombia."

In the October 2000 elections for state governors and legislators - at the time, Narco News was the only English-language news agency to report the results - the voters massively repudiated and rejected Pastrana's conservative party, which lost every single state election and saw the election of many governors and officials from small independent parties, breaking the lock of a corrupted two-party system.

From that moment on, Pastrana has struggled in vain to regain legitimacy.

Last night's televised declaration of war had been planned for a while. It was clear the hour was near when the U.S. government spent $3 million taxpayer dollars on February 3rd, Super Bowl Sunday, to convince the taxpayers, with their own money, to support a war in Colombia. Pastrana and his U.S. commanders were simply waiting for the next political pretext to begin the shooting: In this case, the alleged hijacking and kidnapping of a member of Congress by the rebel FARC; The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Within hours last night, aerial bombardments began upon 85 rural Colombian communities, bases of support for the rebels. More bombing has been announced for this afternoon.

But Colombia is not Afghanistan, and the FARC has more than four decades of survival experience against the Colombian army.

Author Bert Ruiz - a political moderate - gave a speech last May to the conservative Heritage Foundation about Plan Colombia. He began by reminding of his own considerable establishment credentials:

"My views are based on a diverse background that includes two tours in Vietnam with a United States Marine Corp elite G-2 military intelligence unit, a formal education in journalism at New York University's Graduate School of Arts and Science and nearly twenty years of experience in Latin America as a senior Wall Street executive primarily for Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. Secondly, I must formally state that the views expressed here today are my own and do not represent the position of the Colombian American Association in New York City of which I am the former President and current Chairman.

"Quite frankly, I think it is my responsibility to state here and now that there is a 'bright shining lie' in Colombia. And the truth is that the Colombian armed forces have entered a sinister relationship with the paramilitary death squads and have orchestrated a slaughterhouse mentality to rid the nation of the guerrillas. Colombia has the worst human rights crisis in the Hemisphere. Our own State Department, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Human Rights Watch Americas and Amnesty International have all documented that the Colombian military maintains links to the paramilitaries."

Ruiz went on to say, based on his direct reporting within Colombia:

"What I bring to the table today is an important insight to the overall rural and urban strength of the FARC organization. I have dedicated the past three and one half years to complete a book titled 'The Colombian Civil War.' It took me nearly two years to establish contact with the FARC and in September of last year while on a 40-day trip to Colombia, under dangerous conditions I met with the FARC. I think its important to make it clear I am not sympathetic to the guerrilla position but in order to complete my book I needed to better understand the position of the revolutionaries….

"The first thing I learned is that the FARC considers Colombia today in 'ideal conditions for a revolution.' They pointed out the wretched poverty in the countryside, the intensifying urban squalor and the repressive and dictatorial political regime that allows death squads to randomly slaughter unarmed campesinos will eventually help them assume power. They explained that guerrilla warfare is also a business and a way of life and that they have institutionalized sources of income. I found that the fight in Colombia is using a plan that combines elements of the Nicaraguan insurrectionist model and that of the Vietnamese model of a prolonged war of attrition.

"And amazingly I was quoted a military strategy that states, 1. The war must be carried on in the interior of the country. 2. The war cannot hinge upon a single battle. 3. The theater of war must extend over a considerable area. 4. The national character must support the war. And 5. The terrain must be irregular, difficult, and inaccessible. I was also told the FARC is content with attacking when success was certain, refusing to give battle likely to incur losses or to engage in hazardous actions. I was told in the Vietnamese theater of operations this method was used and carried off great victories. Lastly I was told that Che Guevara wrote that the duty of revolutionaries is to make revolution. In essence I was brought into the world and language of a class struggle and found the FARC to be intelligent and confident. And I quickly understood what Andy Messing was trying to explain in 1998 when he said the FARC 'were not farmers with pitchforks.'

"However, the most troubling information, which came from several sources, is the strength of the FARC in Colombia's large cities of Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla and Bucaramanga. A shocking statistic of the Colombian reality is that 56.3% of the nation, 21.6 million citizens suffer from extreme poverty, making less that 110,000 pesos a month or $55 US... Moreover, as of today, Bogotá is inundated with displaced campesinos attempting to escape the war in the countryside - raising the population of residents in the capital to over 8 million Colombians….

"Overall, those human rights activists who have not fled Colombia in terror from right wing death squads estimate the FARC guerrilla organization now had hundreds of thousands of urban sympathizers in the major cities of Colombia - some with suitcases filled with weapons ready for a revolution. All totaled I am convinced the FARC has 30,000 AK 47's hidden in Bogotá, has a militia of 10,000 in Bogotá primarily from the ranks of the 4 million poor Colombians crowded into the downtrodden barrios of Bolivar, Kennedy and Soacha…."

"Why is this not public information?" asked Ruiz. "Why is it we are told that 95% of Colombians reject the guerrillas and they have little public support."

And he explains:

"Another bright shining lie in Colombia is that the polls are skewed. The major polls in Colombia are all primarily random digit dialing or a systematic interval spacing of listed numbers that capture the ideas of the upper and middle classes. The truth is in Colombia the poor do not have phones and are the silent majority. Subsequently, Colombia is a democracy in peril and the truth be known: anti-American sentiment in Colombia is growing dramatically.

"The FARC is convinced that as they grow stronger, the Colombian armed forces will one day fire on or bomb the poor in the major urban centers and the revolution will start in earnest. The FARC have teamed up with common bandits and gangs, which are plentiful in the barrios, the workers unions and students in universities. They are much stronger than the U.S. or Colombian government admits and that is a clear reason why President Clinton waived every major human rights clause in the aid package. The Clinton administration found out too late that the Colombian armed forces are impotent and unable to protect or provide for the poor. Moreover, security forces in Colombian blatantly conduct illegal actions that are not consistent with the leadership of the nation."

Now is the hour in which we will begin to find out whether the U.S. government and its obedient press corps have been telling the truth about the alleged weakness of the Colombian revolutionary movements.

One of the first maneuvers by the US-backed Colombian regime in its declaration of all-out-war was to ban press coverage.

The French Press Agency (AFP) reports today:

"The Colombian army did not permit the entrance of journalists into the former demilitarized zone in the south of the country on Thursday….

"According to journalists working near the border of the zone the FARC occupied until midnight last night, General Javier Arias, Commander of the 7th Military Brigade… banned the entrance of the press into the 42,000 square-kilometer zone.

"A military spokesman told the press that the prohibition of journalists was ordered by the president himself.
'These are our orders, and until they are changed we cannot allow the entrance of journalists,' said the military spokesman.

However, the special correspondent of AFP documented that civilians have been permitted to enter the former demilitarized zone.

"The journalists are now at a military roadblock… on the highway between Puerto Rico and San Vicente del Caguán (700 kilometers south of Bogotá) in the ex-neutral zone."

If past is prologue, information will continue to find its way out of the war zone despite the efforts by the official censors to shut down authentic journalism. Narco News will continue to translate, analyze and report the facts to the global public.

Narco News, today, repeats three vital facts that we have frequently reported:

1. The U.S. and Colombian militaries are fighting side by side with, and protecting, the brutal and illegal paramilitary death squads, despite the rhetorical admission by the U.S. State Department that the paramilitaries are "terrorists" and profit-driven narco-kingpins.

2. We reject the cowardly and ignorant statements from some "moderate" quarters that seek to create a moral equivalence between the rebel guerrillas and the paramilitary troops. That view reflects official propaganda, not reality. The rebels oppose the rule of the large landowners, foreign capital, and the Colombian oligarchy. The paramilitaries seek to maintain that status quo. The governments and the paramilitaries, together, wish to enforce a brutal and undemocratic regime to violently prevent every aspect of an open society; they seek to keep the impoverished majority from participating in elections, in unions, and in civil organizations. By assassinating and repressing all social movements, they have made violent revolution inevitable.

3. One of the most ignored differences between the FARC and its opponents in government and paramilitary forces is that the FARC openly calls for legalization of drugs as part of the program it hopes to bring with its revolution.

New York Stock Exchange President Richard Grasso Visited the Rebels in 2000

We have often repeated that when a government calls a policy a "war," as with the war on drugs, things will eventually go "boom!"

The explosion began this morning, at midnight.

We expect that this will be a protracted conflict. It's also clear that, every day, the United States government wades deeper into this Big Muddy war.

Narco News will be covering this war, and monitoring how the rest of the media reports on it. As always, we will bring you the words of Colombians and Latin Americans that are not often translated into English, much less reported by the English-language media. You will read very different opinions here than those allowed in the commercial media. The Colombian reality has been cloaked by the screeching hysterical rhetoric of the false wars on terrorism and drugs. We will continue to rip that cloak apart, so that our readers may see a greater truth emerging from Bolívar's América.

Finally, we wish to stress that events in Colombia are integrally related to events throughout the hemisphere. Narco News reports underway from Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Perú, México and the United States are all related, one way or another, to the Colombian war.

América is a whole made up of many lands and peoples. It cannot, journalistically speaking, be pulled apart. Efforts by the U.S. government to stage a coup in Venezuela, to poison Ecuador's peasants with herbicide, to prop up a puppet narco-regime in Bolivia, to provide cover for a new model of narco-regime in Perú, and to bolster sagging public opinion in the United States for a drug prohibition that causes all the ills that Washington claims to be combating in our América, are all pieces of the same story.

Zero Hour in Colombia means Zero Hour for América.

The revolution will be reported.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano, Publisher
The Narco News Bulletin

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The Revolution Will Be Reported